Becoming Philippa York - Part 3.2

In the Eurosport documentary The Power of Sport, York talks frankly about her struggles to come to terms with her gender identity:

"In my mid-thirties, these 'gender concerns' started to become more and more pressing because they wouldn't go away. Those years got darker and darker the longer I didn’t do anything. I was in a very bad place, very depressed, unhappy with my life." 

She has spoken elsewhere about struggling to accept people being kind to her, and I ask her if she’s got used to that yet. She pauses, and then tells me: “It depends. Random people? No, I haven't got used to them. It depends on how they do it. You know, if they’re expressing emotion when they're doing it, then that'll set me off and I'll start crying. Because I'm allowed to cry now. I would never cry, I wouldn't even get close to it. Because that whole system of emotion I would just turn off. Right? And that's why I tried to be a better person. I don't have to defend myself in the same way that I did when I'm competition, so I can be emotional and I can be vulnerable.”

I ask York if she has any regrets looking back over the first half of her life. When it comes to her career, she says:

“If you don’t have regrets, you didn’t have enough ambition and ego.”

She compares the competitive person to a pie chart: “You have all the ingredients there to be a competitive person. And you have a tiny sliver of a normal, sociable person. And all those nasty things like ambition and ego and aggression, selfishness, all the things that you need to be a top athlete are not good things, necessarily.”

“But the first regret is not being born female. And I can’t do anything about that now. It’s done.”